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Views on Highbury

May 19, 2004

Views on Highbury

The North Shore City Council has received a highly encouraging response to its Highbury consultation with more than 900 people responding to the 'Unlocking Highbury's Potential' newsletter and questionnaire.

Local residents and business people were asked for feedback on what they like about the centre and what needs to be done to improve it. As part of a council planning initiative called the Highbury Centre Review, the questionnaire covered a wide range of issues including people's views about the environment, transport, living, working and recreational facilities at Highbury.

North Shore City strategy and finance committee chairperson, Tony Holman, is pleased with the high response rate.

"The local community cares about what happens to its centre in the future," he says.

"People have strong views about what they like about the area and where they see room for improvement."

Maximising views, protecting and enhancing older buildings, and planting more street trees all share strong support from people who responded to the questionnaire. The feedback showed just over half of those who responded were in favour of more seating in the centre and a town square.

Most people agreed or strongly agreed that there should be a wider range of shops and services, more jobs should be created and that it should be promoted as a place to visit and do business. More than half the respondents felt there were adequate community facilities and enough parks nearby. People had mixed views on whether there was plenty of things to do in Highbury apart from business and shopping and whether it needed a visitor information centre.

Many people believed Highbury is pedestrian-friendly and easy to reach by bus. Less than half of respondents felt there is enough parking in the centre and there were differing opinions on whether more cyclist facilities were needed. Many respondents felt that cars should be able to move freely through Highbury while more than half felt that pedestrians should have priority over cars.

Councillor Holman says the community's feedback will help the council to prepare a vision and design concepts for an important suburban centre.

"We will continue to work closely with the local community, business people and education groups to ensure their needs are addressed and that we get the best result for Highbury. I was particularly pleased that youth groups also had many helpful suggestions," he says.

Local resident Steve Cleary was the lucky winner of the prize draw to win a $100 gift voucher for a local business or restaurant.

Workshops with key stakeholders were also held to identify Highbury's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Maximising views of the harbour and city and protecting heritage were viewed as fundamental to Highbury's future. Improving the look of the centre and its buildings, creating a focal point and having better transport and pedestrian links were also seen as important.

The Highbury Centre Review is one of the many projects in the North Shore City Council's City Blueprint Action Plan which sets out its approach to improving the way in which growth and change is managed in the city.

The feedback from the Highbury questionnaire and workshops, along with technical data and research, will help to form a clear direction for the Highbury centre. A vision and design concepts will be presented to the council next month and the local community will have the opportunity to review and comment on them.

Funding town centres is also one of 14 proposals the council is currently considering in its draft 2004-2014 City Plan. People were asked what level of funding they feel is appropriate to invest in enhancing and improving town centres over the next 10 years. Public hearings are being held this month and a decision is due by July.

ENDS

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